Delaware quarterback Pat Kehoe threw for 2 touchdowns and rushed for another as the Blue Hens defeated Delaware State 31-13 in the 9th "Route 1 Rivalry."
In front of a near-sellout of 15,894 in under-renovation Delaware Stadium, both offenses would struggle to find their footing early, combining for just 14 yards in the opening 4 possessions of the game.
(VIDEO | Game Highlights)
Delaware State would get the first big opportunity after Tyshene Williams recovered a muffed punt, but Jose Romo-Martinez missed a 48-yard field goal to keep the game scoreless.
Delaware then went on a 48-yard drive, but had to settle for a Jake Roth's 38-yard field goal as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
DelState went right back down the field on the ensuing drive, with starter Shayne Smith converting passes of 14 and 28 yards to set up Romo-Martinez for a 25-yard kick, which he converted to tie the game.
Delaware would punt the football away, and despite starting at their own 9, DelState again was able to put together a sustained drive into the Delaware red zone, but Romo-Martinez again was called to hit a 30-yard field goal to give DelState a 6-3 lead.
It was the first time Delaware State held a lead in the 9 games between the First State rivals.
Big plays then worked for the Hens, as Kehoe hit tight end Bryce De Maille for 18 yards, followed by a DelState pass interference call, and then on the next play Delaware faked a fly sweep, and Kehoe kept it 21 yards going against the grain for a walk-in touchdown.
Jourdan Townsend, who had earlier muffed the punt, sped his way to a 47-yard punt return, putting Delaware at the DSU 33, and two plays later Kehoe hit tight end Owen Tyler up the middle for a 24-yard touchdown, and a 16-6 halftime lead after a missed extra point.
Delaware scored on their first two drives of the second half, getting a 33-yard field goal from Roth, and then a 15-yard touchdown from Kehoe to Thyrick Pitts to stretch the lead to 25-6.
(VIDEO | QB Pat Kehoe and WR Thyrick Pitts are challenged about their chemistry)
Delaware's special teams then stepped up, as Concord's Brian Dennis blocked a punt, and then scooped and scored from 14 yards away to give Delaware more breathing room at 31-6.
DelState freshman Tylik Bethea entered the game at quarterback after starter Smith suffered a hand injury on his non-throwing arm, and he tossed his first career touchdown, a 10-yard pass to Bizzet Woodley with 3:20 left, to finish off the scoring.
Smyrna's Will Knight broke off a game-high 61-yard run in the dying embers of the game, but another missed field goal by Delaware cost them an opportunity for more points.
Kehoe finished 18-for-28 for 186 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions for Delawre, with Pitts catching 6 of the passes for 81 yards and a score, as he was named game MVP.
9 different Blue Hens caught passes, including William Penn's Chichi Amachi, who had a touchdown overturned in the opening quarter when referees ruled he had committed offensive pass interference after a defensive hold. He finished with 3 grabs on the evening.
Bethea threw for 137 yards and a touchdown for DelState.
Will Knight's long run made him the game's leading rusher with 68 yards. Bryant Dallas led DelState with 48 rushing yards.
DelState's defense had 11 tackles for loss, paced by Delmar's Brooks Parker, who had 2.5 of his 10 tackles take place in the backfield.
Middletown's Kedrick Whitehead was the co-leader in tackles for Delaware with 7.
Delaware opens CAA play next Saturday at Rhode Island, who defeated the Hens at Delaware Stadium last year.
Delaware State gets a week off before their home opener against Division II Lincoln.